Policy matters


Michael Tomasky is right. I don’t know what it is about Bernie, but he doesn’t bother to sit down and actually hash out solutions — which is why I prefer Clinton:

What Sanders does is that he stakes out moral positions that are laudable abstract goals. But I’ve been shocked sometimes by how little thought he seems to have given to how to get to these goals. Take the Medicare-for-all thing. Many months ago he started talking about Medicare-for-all. At one point reporters started asking, so, where’s the plan? Yeah, yeah; it’ll come, it’ll come. So some weeks passed. And then he released his plan.

Well, it didn’t get very good reviews. Ezra Klein, Vox: “It is, to be generous, a gesture toward a future plan.” James Surowiecki, The New Yorker: “… the accompanying document devoted to explaining how the plan would work, and what it would mean for patients and providers, consists of just a couple of pages.”

I read the thing when he released it. I thought it was reasonably detailed on the how-he’d-pay-for-it part. But on the question of how health care would be delivered—which is to say, on the whole point of the thing!—it was a joke. And I thought: Now here’s this guy. He’s been in Congress for a quarter-century. Every day during all those years, he’s supported Medicare-for-all. In all that time, couldn’t he have given some thought to some of the specific and complicated questions of health-care delivery? And maybe he did. But there’s no evidence in this plan that he did. That was a tell.

Now, to Clinton. What she offers are solutions. She started talking about Flint long before Sanders did, and instead of focusing on Snyder, she put forward solutions and proposals. What she isn’t good at is moral thunder. It’s not her nature, never has been. At Wellesley, she supported permitting antiwar activities on campus and rescinding the skirt rule; but her involvement was less about marching than about sitting down with administrators to work out the details. Then she became a cautious centrist, which probably suited her temperamentally since nobody expects a cautious centrist to do moral thunder. But now she’s trying to be a populist, and she doesn’t have the gene.

I think she just ought to own it. Sunday night she should have said, “Yeah, whatever, Snyder should go. And you know what? The day he moves out of the governor’s mansion, it’s not like the water of Flint is going to magically get better.” And so on in that vein. Because to get into a game who can out-thunder whom is get into a game she can’t win. In this respect, the media abet Sanders, because news tends to be defined as that one grabby new thing. So on NPR Monday morning—yes, even “smart” NPR—the reports on the debate led with the fact that Clinton joined Sanders’s call for Snyder’s head, which is “news.” I get it, but it is hardly the most meaningful thing that happened and is irrelevant to the health of the people of Flint.

The perfect candidate would be a cross between the two. But human beings aren’t usually good at two opposing things. I can see why people are drawn to the moral-thunder candidate, but they in turn ought to be able to see why some other people—people who are shaping up to be the majority, as it happens—are drawn to the let’s-figure-this-out candidate. It’s less about ideology and more about temperament than most people would prefer to admit. And one thing’s for sure: Outrage certainly isn’t morally superior to rolling up one’s sleeves. If anything, the opposite is true.

8 thoughts on “Policy matters

  1. And that’s why she will never be able to flip the House to get what she wants, she can’t inspire people to vote in midterm elections. Those are about the base, the base, it’s all about that base, so to speak. She inspires no one below the age of 45.

    And THAT is why I believe she will lose to Trump.

  2. Bernie’s budget will raise $13.8 trillion dollars in additional revenues for the treasury deptartment over 10 years.
    Which will pretty much pay for all of the “free stuff” the establishment corporate Democrats keep referring to. People like Hillary.
    1. He will raise the tax rate on high earners to 65% from its current 28%. (Pays for tuition free college.)
    2. He will raise the social security tax ceiling on the first $250,000 of earned income up from its current $125,000. He’d like to include unearned income in the mix as well. (Extends the life of the S/S system and allows for increased benefits.)
    3. Employers will pay an additional 6.2% in taxes and workers will pay 2.2% more.
    That increase will cover the cost of “Medicare for all” and replace the premiums now paid by individuals to private, for-profit health insurance companies.
    Those are pretty specific solutions to each problem that Bernie wants to solve.
    Of course the “can’t do” crowd won’t see it that way.

  3. Hillary is too far to the right for me on too many issues, is too friendly with the old-guard and corporate interests (thinking cabinet picks and vetos here), and I worry about the inexplicable extreme hate for her from the GOP, but I think you’re probably right — Hillary is going to be the Democratic nominee. I really like Bernie’s bold vision — after all, the President doesn’t get to write many bills, but he has to push for the best solution, not discard single-payer in advance of negotiations because “it isn’t practical” — which is what I’m afraid Hillary will continue.

    Fingers crossed that Bernie can pull her back to the left before she wraps up the nomination. And then picks a bolder VP than herself.

  4. Those of you talking about how far right Hillary is, you are aware that when she and Sanders were in the Senate, they voted the same way 93% of the time?

    And that she got actual left-leaning legislation passed, like children’s health care?

    And that she’s not the one praised by the NRA?

    And that her health care ideas in the early 1990s were so much closer to single payer that it galvanized Big Insurance and the right wing into trying to squash her? (They also countered with HeritageCare, which became RomneyCare and ObamaCare.)

    Which is when the memes started about how she’s boring, and untrustworthy (which is kind of funny because untrustworthiness is *not* boring), and the rest, which some well-meaning leftists seem to have swallowed whole. Think about why that is.

  5. Hillary is a warmonger.
    She may be “to the left” on some domestic issues, but on fracking, the Patriot Act, health care, the minimum wage, banks that are too big to fail, international interventionism, etc. she is decidedly not a Progressive.
    She is far more Right then she is Left.

  6. Maybe it’s that I become Medicare eligible in two years, but if the writer acknowledges that Bernie has planned how to pay for the extension, what’s missing? Now I’ll tell you I’m daunted by the filing deadlines and choices that are starting to show up in my e-mail, so registration has complexities. But I don’t doubt that there’s a health plan waiting.

  7. Susie is correct. Medicare for all is not single-payer, universal, full coverage insurance. Medicare doesn’t cover everything by a long shot, which is why almost everyone has a supplemental plan that they pay for. And you still have a fragmented, discontinuous health-care delivery system. While Bernie’s instincts are good, I have to acknowledge that Hillary’s command of the intricacies of health care reform is much superior. (Once again, as in foreign policy, superior knowledge does not imply superior judgement.)

    ACA has provided 16 million previously uninsured with insurance under Medicaid expansion. That’s good. Some of the rest of us are worse off to much worse off because our former plans are not permitted under the new law. Shifting the health care cost curve significantly means shifting costs to consumers. (Remember “If you like your current plan, you can keep it.” Wrong) Getting from here to somewhere better will not as easy as getting a bunch of new money from rich people and expanding Medicare.

  8. Putting forward solutions and proposals that do not solve problems if they were to get passed and enacted and then not sticking to your principles is the hallmark of a poor leader. This is Obama, and this is Hillary. A leader that piques the imagination, that tells people that we can make much-needed change is a leader. Like JFK. Like Sanders. Like Trump. Hillary will lose if voters are given a choice between those two types of leaders come November, if she doesn’t lose in the primaries before then.

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